Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Scotiabank Giller Prize

It's the richest fiction prize in Canada and I have not read any of the books!  How can that be? Every year I say that I want to get more involved with the Giller Prize but then it's November and it's too late. Oh well.  For sure, I will be watching the event next Monday- hopefully on my new T.V.  The new T.V. isn't hooked up yet, and when it is, I may be in shock. I am going from a 21 inch screen to a 50 inch screen.  Culture shock!

And this is the year for shocks.  Our 'dearly beloved' Jian Ghomeshi will not be hosting any shows.  I say 'dearly beloved' because I think his life is over.  My daughter disagrees.  She thinks he will go on to write books and become a different kind of 'star'.  But the court case will be very interesting and important in defining 'abuse'.
Rick Mercer is our man this year and I love what he says about taking over the show. He says that it is not about the host, but the books and he will not be mentioning Jian. He also is not putting the story on his show "The Rick Mercer Report" because he is into humour and doesn't have the resources for this type of story.  He feels that it absolutely should be discussed in other circumstances.
Mercer will certainly be a great host, but I don't think he is a reader.  He says that he has read the 'Coles notes' on the books that have been chosen.  And here they are:

This prize is a big deal!  The jury read 161 novels, came up with a short list of 12, then the 6 finalists. They saved us all that reading! The winner receives $100,000.00 and each finalist get $10,000.00.  Wow!  It is a big deal!  This is the 21st year.  Maybe I'll get my act together for the 22nd show next year and read all six books in preparation for the 2015 award show!

I am familiar with four of the authors and it seems like a really good selection of books.  I am especially interested in the content of "Us Conductors".  The jury said, "Sean Michaels makes music seem to sing from the pages of a novel".  This novel was inspired by the scientist that invented the theremin.  And that, in itself, is fascinating.  A theremin is an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact, invented in 1928.

"Tell" also interests me because I have read books by Frances Itani and she is a great writer.  Her sentences are well-crafted and she really gets into the emotion of her characters.  This books sounds similar to "The Deafening"- also about  a W.W. I injured soldier returning to Ontario and his life here.

I have taken a course on Miriam Toews but still find her cynical and sarcastic. But she is a good writer.

I am also not a fan of Heather O'Neil.  She grew up poor and motherless in Montreal and feels that she can profit from that in her writing, but I found "Lullabies for Little Criminals" terribly sad with poor plot development.  The novel seemed to be a shopping list of misery- abuse, poverty. drugs, prostitution. I did enjoy some of her description but I always need a ray of hope and she didn't provide any!

David Bezmozgis is the other author that I am familiar with.  His book "Natasha and other Stories" was a finalist for Canada Reads in 2007.

Next year- for sure!  I will read all six books in anticipation.  It's more fun that way!

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